Organizing Youth (OY) & Youth Solidarity Summer (YSS)

This page looks at the OY and the YSS as one and the same organization because they have been started and supported by the Forum of Inquilabi Leftists (FOIL), Friends of South Asian (FOSA) and EKTA. While CAG claims that YSS and OY are separate groups, facts prove otherwise. In addition, both groups have been defunct for many years and their former operatives have now spawned initiatives such as the Bay Area Solidarity Summer (BASS), a project of ASATA, discussed here.

The website YSS has not been updated since 2007,[1] while the website for OY has not been updated since 2005.[2] In addition, as shown by the website links, they both share the same website.

Section 28.01    Organizing Youth (OY)

OY was a San Francisco-based group started by members of FOIL, FOSA, EKTA, etc. While this group was a “signatory” to the CAG’s rabid agenda, the following facts demonstrate that it is a non-existent group that was a mere extension of FOIL and its attempts to groom youth into an ideology that promotes hatred and disgust toward Hinduism and India:

  1. A WhoIs.net site registration search www.youthsolidarity.org (which hosts both OY and YSS, as www.youthsolidarity.org/oy/ and www.youthsolidarity.org/yss), shows that it is registered to Ramkumar Sridharan and FOSA.[3] Similarly, the site is hosted by EKTA.[4]
  2.  According to its website, OY’s purpose was “to provide radical political education and training to South Asian youth…”[5] OY’s target audience is “…South Asians between the ages of 17 and 23 [or thereabouts] who are looking for alternatives to the dominant socio-political and economic ideologies…[who] have questions regarding or are interested in frameworks of leftist analysis and politics of dissent…”[6] Working under the wraps of “social injustice, racism, religious bias, gender bias, etc.”,[7] OY was primarily interested in indoctrinating youth in the radical leftist ideology espoused by FOIL and its affiliates.
  3. Under the question “Why and when was OY! formed?”,[8] the group traced its inspiration and beginnings to YSS and FOIL. For example, “OY! has been inspired by the success of the Youth Solidarity Summer, which is a project of the Progressive South Asian Exchange (ProXsa) in New York.”[9] ProXsa, as discussed here, is another name for FOIL.
  4. In 2005, during the California textbook controversy, OY was part of the coalition that lobbied against a fair portrayal of Hinduism in those textbooks. In the usual strategy followed by FOIL and its affiliates to hoodwink regulators, media and the general public, Jhumpa Bhattacharya and Ramkumar Sridharan signed a letter on behalf of OY.[10] Sridharan, discussed before, belongs to FOSA. OY rejected most of the edits suggested by the Hindu groups and parents. Their prejudices against Hindus and Hinduism comes starkly across in the following stance it has taken in the letter:

The Hindu groups suggested edits reflecting that women in ancient India had different rights than men, and that there were prominent women sages associated with the Vedas:

Hindu Groups: “Men had different duties (dharma) as well as rights than women. Many women were among the sages to whom the Vedas were revealed.”[11]

OY: “It is necessary to highlight patriarchy in Indian and other civilizations in order to sensitize children to gender inequalities. Ancient Indian women had very limited access to education, were denied inheritance or property, and were excluded from positions of authority.”[12]

The issue of gender inequality is a much more advanced subject than those usually taught in a 6th grade textbook; and even scholars do not agree on the subject when it comes to ancient Indian society. Further, there is clear evidence that women such as Gargi, Lopamudra and Maitreyi commanded respect in the Vedic times.

It is quite hypocritical that OY and the coalition have argued so vehemently against Hinduism on this point while they are completely silent on the patriarchy practiced in the Abrahamic religions. What’s more, in the same letter, OY maintains that “Hinduism and Ancient South Asian culture…represent many different strains of philosophies, ideologies and practices…”[13] However, they only pounce on the Caste System, the status of women, etc. in India – all the usual points used by FOIL and the CAG to demonize Hinduism. Again, this nexus has no similar criticism of Islam, the other major South Asian religion. They have never registered a protest against textbooks on Islam and demanded to show aspects such as treatment of women in Islamic society, treatment of minorities/non-believers, genocides in South Asia, etc. 

Section 28.02    Youth Solidarity Summer (YSS)

YSS was a youth wing of FOIL. According to the YSS Workbook, it was started in 1996 by members of FOIL (also called ProXsa) in response to what they deemed as “…the growth of the Hindu right in the United States and its growing influence on South Asian youth in schools and colleges”.[14] However, its old website, retrieved through a search in the Internet Archive’s WayBack Machine, declares that it was founded in 1997.[15]

YSS’ main website (www.proxsa.org/yss) has been unchanged/non-functional since 2008.[16] But it also maintained another website as discussed above. In its workbook, YSS calls itself merely a “collective” and hence not a true organization as the CAG would rather have it. From its workbook, YSS seemed to be a coalition of only 15-20 active members who worked on a potpourri of radical leftist issues. The workbook states:

The YSS collective consists of 15-20 active members working in a range of progressive social movements and organizations, including labor rights groups, the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/two-spirit movement, anti-domestic violence organizations, feminist groups, organizations working on issues of racial and economic justice, environmentalist organizations, immigrant rights organizations, the movement against the prison industrial complex, radical youth organizations, radical spoken word, performance art, and dance.[17]

On page 8, YSS itself declares that it “…is not an independent tax-exempt [501(c)(3)] organization…”[18] thus showing yet again that it is not a separate organization.

Pages 10 and 11 of the Workbook further show its FOIL connections. In fact, this is a “Who’s Who” list of many prominent members and spokespersons of groups listed in the CAG. The list below shows some of the YSS alumni and their affiliations in the CAG:[19]

 

YSS Member Group Affiliation
Ali Mir (Ali Hussain Mir) FOIL, CSFH, SAMAR
Amita Swadhin FOIL
Ashwini Rao FOIL, CSFH, INSAF, CAG
Biju Mathew FOIL, CSFH, INSAF, ASDSA, CAG
Rahul De FOIL, SAMAR
Raju Rajan FOIL
Raza Mir (Mir Ali Raza) FOIL, INSAF, SAMAR
Saba Waheed FOIL, SAMAR
Sangeeta Kamat FOIL, , CSFH, INSAF
SP Udayakumar FOIL
Sunaina Maira FOIL, INSAF, ASDSA
Vijay Prashad FOIL, CSFH, CAG

 

Section 28.03    Funding Sources of OY and YSS

Both OY and YSS were funded by FOIL and its affiliates like EKTA, along with grants from some other Marxist groups. In the “donate” section of its website, OY provides a peculiar description of how it is sponsored or supported. In soliciting donations, OY declares:

OY! is fiscally sponsored under the 501(c)3 umbrella of EKTA. We are not funded by EKTA but by small community-based grants and individual donations.[20]

In essence, EKTA was the financial clearinghouse of OY since it did not have an independent tax status, besides providing support such as hosting its website.

In yet another twist, OY asks the check to be made payable to EKTA and sent to an address belonging to the Campaign To Stop Funding Hate (CSFH, another initiative of FOIL, is discussed here)! While the address had been changed in recent years, a March 10, 2005 snapshot available at the Internet Archive’s WayBack Machine displays the address that belongs to CSFH.[21] The figure below illustrates the address match from the sites of OY and CSFH.

OY-CSFH Same Address

 

As for YSS, page 9 of its manual declares that its funds “…are managed through the SINGH Foundation, our fiscal sponsor.”[22] SINGH Foundation is the financial clearinghouse and fundraising arm of FOIL. In addition, the Foundation mentions that it is a fiscal sponsor of YSS.[23]

In summary, OY and YSS were the youth initiatives of FOIL and its affiliates in the CAG and not independent organizations as claimed by CAG. OY and YSS also demonstrate the intentionally hidden links between the various organizations spawned by FOIL and its affiliates such as FOSA and EKTA/CAC, and how these organizations support/run each other.

 

[1] http://www.youthsolidarity.org/yss/. Accessed January 19, 2014

[2] http://www.youthsolidarity.org/oy/index.htm. Accessed January 19, 2014

[3] http://www.whois.net/whois/youthsolidarity.org. Accessed January 19, 2014

[4] See the footer of the OY website at http://www.youthsolidarity.org/oy/index.htm with words “© Organizing Youth (OY!), 2004. Site hosted by ektaonline.org”. Accessed January 20, 2014

[5] http://www.youthsolidarity.org/oy/index.htm. Accessed January 20, 2014

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] See #3 in the Frequently Asked Questions at http://www.youthsolidarity.org/oy/2005/faq/#3. Accessed January 20, 2014

[9]Ibid

[10] See a copy of the letter sent to the California School Board at http://www.friendsofsouthasia.org/textbook/LetterToCAStateBoard_OY.pdf. Accessed January 20, 2014

[11] Ibid, page 3

[12] Ibid, page 3

[13] Ibid

[14] “Youth Solidarity Summer (YSS) Workbook”, page 1, http://www.proxsa.org/yss/yss2003/YSSWorkbookV1.0.pdf. Accessed January 20, 2014

[15] https://web.archive.org/web/20020829205858/http://www.proxsa.org/yss/. Accessed January 21, 2014

[16] See for example, a WayBack Machine Internet Archive Search of https://web.archive.org/web/20080920094151/http://insaf.net/yss/, which redirects to http://www.proxsa.org/yss.  The latter has remain unchanged since at least June 20, 2008. Accessed January 21, 2014

[17] Ibid, page 6

[18] Ibid, page 8

[19] Ibid, pages 9-10

[20] http://www.youthsolidarity.org/oy/donate/.  Accessed January 20, 2014

[21] For OY, see https://web.archive.org/web/20050111001253/http://www.youthsolidarity.org/oy/donate/. For CSFH, see http://stopfundinghate.org/FxH/121202SFHPressAdv.htm. Accessed January 20, 2014

[22] “Youth Solidarity Summer (YSS) Workbook”, page 9, http://www.proxsa.org/yss/yss2003/YSSWorkbookV1.0.pdf. Accessed January 20, 2014

[23] See the website at http://www.singhfoundation.org/activities.html. For example, on YSS, SINGH’s website says: “Another activity of the foundation is to be the fiscal sponsor for fledgling grassroots groups in the South Asian community in the United States. We have sponsored…Youth Solidarity Summer, a summer program for South Asian youth, held for a week each summer for a number of years in New York;” Accessed February 14, 2014